Unless you’re an ultrarunner living in the Rocky Mountains, you may not have heard of Paul Hamilton before this weekend. If that’s the case, you are forgiven. Now that he’s finished second at the 2014 Speedgoat 50k, well, you should probably know who he is going forward. In the following interview, Paul talks about what his athletic background is, how his breakout race (on a big stage) went, and where he’d like to run next.
For more on how the race played out, read our 2014 Speedgoat 50k results article.
[Click here if you can’t see the video above.]
Paul Hamilton Post-2014 Speedgoat 50k Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Bryon Powell of iRunFar here with Paul Hamilton after his second-place finish at the 2014 Speedgoat 50k. Paul, you’re now officially on the radar.
Paul Hamilton: I guess so.
iRunFar: You’ve had a lot of good runs in this past year. You won The Rut 50k last year; you won San Juan Solstice this year. There was something else this spring.
Hamilton: I was second to Alex Nichols at the Red Hot in Moab.
iRunFar: You’ve been crushing it at these competitive, well-storied races that are kind of a little bit off the map. What’s it feel like to come to a race with a lot of big names and rip it up?
Hamilton: It’s kind of surreal. I was hoping I would reach this point sometime this summer. I have the skill set and it’s just a matter of time. It’s amazing. I’m pretty high right now relishing the moment. I’m really happy to be part of the scene and meeting so many great people along the way. It’s a lot of fun.
iRunFar: And you are. You’ve kind of immersed yourself with those races, and you just paced Julien Chorier at his second-place finish at Hardrock. What was that like?
Hamilton: It was amazing—one of the coolest running experiences I’ve had. First time attending Hardrock, first time pacing, and running through the night. My roommate Brendan Trimboli and I split the pacing duties. We crewed through Telluride and Ouray. I paced him from Grouse to Cunningham overnight. It was such a blast.
iRunFar: Here you are. What is your athletic background and your endurance-sports background? How old are you again—early 20’s?
Hamilton: Actually 28.
Hamilton: I get it a lot that I look much younger than I am. As far as my background goes, I ran cross country and track through high school. I walked onto the CSU team my freshman year and then kind of flaked out after that. I didn’t do much running for the next four or five years. I just got into backpacking and started connecting with the land and enjoyed moving through the landscaped and just logically got back into running.
iRunFar: What flipped the switch back to running? When did you pick that back up?
Hamilton: I guess it was maybe… I did my first ultra in the fall of 2012. That summer, I guess, was when I really started to do some longer runs. I wasn’t training. I was just enjoying running around in the mountains. I did the Four Pass Loop around Aspen. That was a learning experience that summer. I really hadn’t tried out any nutrition and had an epic bonk and realized it was a bit harder than I thought it was going to be.
iRunFar: If you’re going to do an epic bonk, you might as well do it in the Maroon Bells.
iRunFar: You kept it up. You also won Telluride Mountain Run last year. When you’re hanging out with a crowd like Brendan… I know Dakota Jones is a huge fan. He’s one of your friends, but… what made you decide to get competitive? To finish second at a race like this you have to be putting some work in.
Hamilton: Yeah, I work full time at a grocery store and I run full time, too. I don’t have much free time for other things. Running—I’m super passionate about it. I’ve done it well thus far. Logically, coming to Speedgoat where it’s much more competitive made sense to me to try out how I fared against…
iRunFar: Where do you see yourself going now? What are the dreams in your head?
Hamilton: I’d love to go travel and do some races overseas. That’s really what I’d love to do and kind of see where running takes me that way. I’d like to do some racing in Europe.
iRunFar: Is there anything this year that you’d… if you had a plane ticket right now, where would you go?
Hamilton: It’s hard to say, man. I’m not super versed of when the races are in Europe and what races there are. Just going over the Europe and running in the Dolomites or the Alps, going down to New Zealand… I haven’t traveled outside of the U.S., so it would be a dream to do that.
iRunFar: It’s about time for that. Awesome. Let’s get back to today because you were second in Speedgoat. You weren’t right up with the lead pack right away.
Hamilton: No, I took it out pretty easy.
iRunFar: You and Alex ended up sort of pairing up and being close. One of you would fall back… you and him were close for awhile. Did you actually get to run together?
Hamilton: We did. We did run together for awhile. It was nice. Alex is such a cool dude and super friendly. We descended from Hidden Peak together about to the turnaround and that’s where he put a gap on me. I didn’t see him again until the ridgeline ascending up to Hidden Peak the second time. I caught him at the very top. Then we ran down maybe a mile together. He was telling me that altitude had affected him a little bit. I was able to pull away.
iRunFar: When did you kind of feel you were good for second?
Hamilton: I never felt good. He caught me at the Moab Red Hot with four miles to go. I know he’s such a strong runner. I really wanted second, though, so I hammered until the finish and was able to hold him off.
iRunFar: He said he was really impressed with your hiking ability. Up on the really steep stuff, you could just… it wasn’t even close. Is that from your hiking background?
Hamilton: I guess so, but I’ve been doing a lot of longer, slower peak-bagging stuff this summer. I’ve got pretty solid hiking legs in my right now and decent strength. My legs are pretty long, too, so I’m able to climb.
iRunFar: What are you, 6’5”?
Hamilton: Yes, 6’5”, but mostly legs. I think that has a little bit to do with it.
iRunFar: You live in Durango, so is there any favorite peak in the Weminuche or San Juans or something?
Hamilton: I’ve done Arrow and Vestal twice. Vestal is pretty amazing, super iconic. It’s just a ramp that you can march up and then depending on where you go, it can be more technical or less technical.
iRunFar: Do you like more scrambly stuff or do you prefer the more runnable?
Hamilton: I like it all, man. I love just being in the mountains. If you’re tagging peaks or doing big approaches or doing long runs, it’s all good. It’s awesome to have and to mix it up.
iRunFar: Well, congratulations on your great run here and keep enjoying the mountains.
Hamilton: I will. Thanks very much.
iRunFar: Bonus question for you. You’re unsponsored, right?
Hamilton: Currently, yes.
iRunFar: You wouldn’t mind being sponsored?
Hamilton: I wouldn’t mind if it’s going to take me places and help not break the bank so much, it would be nice.
iRunFar: Yeah, you’re amendable to it. Guys, you might want to start looking at Paul Hamilton.